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There’s more room for improvement in health sector — Pro Vice-Chancellor

The Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, has said that despite achievements in healthcare in the country, the sector still faces multiple systemic bottlenecks.

He mentioned some of the challenges to include inadequate access to essential services and lack of health professionals, especially in rural communities.

Prof. Owusu-Dabo, however, observed that the negative attitude of some healthcare workers required “social surgical intervention,” describing their behaviours as malignant pervasive canker in service delivery.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor, who is also a consultant of public health and a researcher, was speaking at this year’s annual conference of the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) in Koforidua, the Eastern Regional capital.

The three-day event was on the theme: “Ghana’s journey towards universal health coverage; Addressing healthcare quality and human resource challenge.”

It was attended by the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kumah  Aboagye; the Bishop of the Koforidua Diocese of the Catholic Church, Rt. Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum; the Executive Director of CHAG, Dr Peter Yeboah, some officials of the World Bank, USAID and members of the association.

The conference discussed common challenges, including how to mitigate risks of sub-optional quality healthcare, identified relevant challenges, evaluated experiences of healthcare practitioners and shared lessons and best practices across the CHAG network.

History

Tracing the history of healthcare in the country since 1957, Prof. Owusu-Dabo said significant progress had been made, such as raising life-expectancy from 59.2 years in the year 2000 to 63.6 years in 2021.

He said people must be able to access high quality services, adding that the concept and principles of universal health coverage should be fully embraced and operationalised.

Prof. Owusu-Dabo said while access to healthcare services was crucial, the quality of those services was equally vital.

He also said that disparities in healthcare often led to unequal outcomes, thus perpetuating vicious cycles of illness and poverty, thereby eroding the gains made in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Prof. Owusu-Dabo further said that reports by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicated severe health workforce crisis, imbalance skills-mix and uneven geographical distribution of health professionals, leaving millions without access to basic life-saving services.

The number of such health professionals who have vacated their posts would lead to a shortfall of about 10 million by the year 2030, mostly in low and lower-middle income countries, including Ghana, he added.

Support

The Executive Director of CHAG, Dr Peter Yeboah, said members were living by the tenets of the association’s spirit of resilience, commitment and timeless mission of providing essential health needs of citizens as a reliable partner in the health sector.

With regard to CHAG’s performance over the years, he said every year, more than six million people accessed comprehensive health services, comprising curative, promotive, preventive, rehabilitative and palliative healthcare.

Dr Yeboah also said  that 5,000 students had been enrolled into CHAG’s health training institutions.

Dr Patrick Kumah Aboagye also said that although life-expectancy of citizens had improved from 59 years to 66 years, there was more room for improvement as far as quality healthcare was concerned.

For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), Dr Da-Costa Aboagye, reiterated the significant role the National Health Insurance Scheme had played in healthcare since its inception 20 years.

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